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5. Mt. Ivy to Lake Skannatati
Features: Harriman State Park
Distance: 9.40 miles
USGS Map Quads: Thiells
Trail Conference Maps: Trail Map 112 (Hudson Palisades Trails), and Trail Map 118 (Southern Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails)
The Long Path heads north along the Palisades Interstate Parkway for about a mile, crosses the South Branch of Minisceongo Creek, turns west, and climbs up the side of Cheesecote Mountain before descending past Cheesecote Pond and Letchworth Village Cemetery. The trail briefly follows Call Hollow Road before turning west into Harriman State Park. Harriman State Park is a stunningly beautiful preserve of lakes, hemlock and hardwood forest, historical trails and sites, wetlands, mountains and ridges. On the portion of its route through the Park covered in this section, the Long Path keeps largely to gentle grades until it reaches Lake Skannatati.
This section begins in the parking lot of South Mountain County Park on the eastside of NY Route 45, near Exit 13 of the Palisades Interstate Parkway. The trail turns west off Call Hollow Road, about 1 mile west of Exit 114 of the Palisades Interstate Parkway. The section ends at a fishermen's access parking area beside Lake Skannatati on Seven Lakes Drive, about 0.75 miles north of Kanawauke Circle.
0.00 Parking area off NY Route 45, 0.15 miles south of US Route 202. (41.18434°, -74.03635°)
2.60 Cheesecote Lane in Pomona, off North Ridge Road (3-4 cars). (41.20788°, -74.04574°)
A 0.1-mile unmarked path leads to the Long Path near Cheesecote Pond.
3.60 Along Call Hollow Road. (41.21814°, -74.04881°)
9.40 Lake Skannatati parking area. (41.24198°, -74.10243°)
5.65 Big Hill Shelter
0.00 Turn right (north) from the parking lot of South Mountain County Park onto NY Route 45
0.15 At the intersection of NY Route 45 and US Route 202, turn left (west) on Route 202.
0.20 At the next light turn right at the pedestrian crossing. It pays to wait for the light; traffic can be very heavy on Rte 202. Once on the northside of Rte 202, turn left. Be careful, you have to cross Thiells Mt. Ivy Road, which also is an off-ramp for the northbound Palisades Interstate Parkway. Proceed west along the northside of Rte 202, and immediately after passing underneath the Parkway, turn right. The trail goes into the woods for a moment, then emerges to cross the on and off ramps of the Parkway southbound lanes. Be careful: traffic moves fast here!
0.40 The trail makes a short right-left jog and enter the woods at a small pine grove. The turn is indistinctly marked. The trail follows a narrow strip of land between the Palisades Interstate Parkway on the right and a chain-link fence on the left.
0.60 The trail passes under a power line and continues north along the narrow strip.
1.20 The route becomes very swampy as you reach a corner in the chain-link fence. It veers to the left away from the trail.
1.35 The trail turns right onto a grassy woods road, and in a few hundred feet turns left to continue on the bank of the South Branch of Minisceongo Creek.
1.55 Walk along the top of a stone arch over the South Branch of the Minisceongo Creek that carries the creek under the Parkway. Continue along a small tributary stream for approximately 75 yards. Cross the stream, turning away from the Parkway, to intersect a woods road. Turn right onto the road and ascend gently through a hardwood forest along a hill slope. You are entering Cheesecote Park in the Town of Haverstraw.
1.70 The trail turns left and heads up the hill. The grade moderates and the trail continues uphill, with many turns along the way.
2.00 Turn left on a grassy woods road and continue uphill. The road changes from grass to cinders. For the next 1.6 miles until Call Hollow Road, many dirt roads diverge from the road that the Long Path follows. However, the trail stays with the largest and most developed road as it twists and turns.
2.45 Reach the crest of a knob on the shoulder of Cheesecote Mountain and begin to descend, still on the woods road.
2.55 Reach Cheesecote Pond and turn left. The trail goes along the side of the pond, keeping the pond on the right. Turning right there is a camping area (permit required).
2.70 Reach a large turnaround at the southwest corner of the pond. The trail bears left and uphill for a short distance, away from the pond. It then begins a steady descent and changes to a rough cobble base.
3.00 Bear left at a Y-intersection and follow the steeper road downhill.
3.40 Shortly after crossing a power line right-of-way (May 2016: pipeline construction in progress; be prepared to detour), the trail reaches Letchworth Village Cemetery. The Long Path turns left and skirts the cemetery, then turns left again at an intersection of gravel roads. The grade levels off.
3.60 Reach Call Hollow Road and turn left along the pavement.
3.70 Turn right, leaving the road, and re-enter woods. The trail crosses Horse Chock Brook. The bridge across Horse Chock Brook that had been wiped out by Irene in 2011 has been rebuilt in March 2013 by an Eagle Scout. After crossing the brook, make a short ascent up the slope to meet a woods road. The trail turns left to follow the road.
4.25 After a brief drop into the valley of an intermittent stream, the Long Path veers right on a narrow track to ascend the valley while the woods road continues left across the valley. The trail crosses the stream and a rock wall as it continues to climb.
4.50 Reach a crest. From here it is a short drop and rise to the crest of another small knoll.
4.65 The Long Path reaches the dirt road of an AT&T buried telephone cable right-of-way. Cross the road and enter the woods on the other side. After 250 feet, turn right onto an old woods road headed toward a stream. Cross the stream (last sure water before Big Hill Shelter) and turn left as the trail begins a gradual climb.
5.00 Continue climbing over open rock with a seasonal view of the Hudson behind you.
5.10 Pass a small swamp on the left. It may be dry in summer.
5.25 After passing some small glacial erratics, the Long Path enters mountain laurel, turns left and begins a gradual downhill.
5.40 Turn left as the trail drops downhill.
5.45 Reach an intersection with the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail (SBM) (yellow). The Long Path and SBM continue jointly over ledges to climb up to Big Hill Shelter. The woods road leading left from this junction leads to Second Reservoir.
5.1 Big Hill Shelter. 2008 [JAKOB FRANKE]
5.70 Arrive at Big Hill Shelter. Built in 1927, this stone shelter has three fireplaces. The Long Path veers right at the shelter as the SBM continues straight ahead. The Long Path follows a fire road back to the AT&T right-of-way.
5.85 Cross AT&T right-of-way and continue through laurel.
5.95 Begin a short climb up a grassy slope.
6.10 Turn right onto a woods road.
6.15 Cross an intermittent stream on the rocks and contour around a small hill.
6.40 The trail passes just to the north of a 727 plane crash site. Northwest Airlines flight 6231, chartered by the Football Baltimore Colts, took off from JFK airport to pick up the team in Buffalo, NY. During take off an ice storm caused their instruments to provide inaccurate airspeed readings, the plane stalled and crashed here in Harriman Park on December 1, 1974. All 3 crew members [Captain John B. Lagorio, First Officer & Co-Pilot Walter A. (Jim) Zadra, and Second Officer James (Jim) F. Cox, Jr.] lost their lives. This tragic accident drove changes in airline training throughout the world, making flying safer for everyone. Please do not remove items from this site, as it is a memorial to those who lost their lives here.
6.60 After passing through a boulder field, turn right on an old woods road. The trail passes under a telephone line and then through a red pine grove before descending through a swamp, crossing its outlet on a wooden bridge. The trail goes up and down through a hardwood forest rich in oak. Note: The USGS Thiells topographic map of the area from mile 7.15 to mile 8.00 is well out-of-date and shows incorrect road locations.
7.05 The Long Path makes a left turn uphill. Straight ahead, an unmarked trail leads in 0.15 miles to St. John's-in-the-Wilderness Church, the site of the hiking community's annual Palm Sunday pilgrimage.
7.55 Turn right and, in 250 feet, cross a grassy road. (In the opposite direction, one must bear right a bit when crossing the road.) The trail becomes wide and grassy as it approaches Lake Welch Drive.
5.2 St. Johns-in-the-Wilderness Church . 2001 [TODD SCHREIBMAN]
7.70 Cross Lake Welch Drive near its intersection with St. John's Road (formerly Johnsontown Road). The Long Path ascends on an old woods road, at first steeply and with several turns, through open, glade-like forest.
7.90 Bear right, still heading uphill, as another woods road goes left. In 200 feet, the trail turns left on a narrow path as the woods road continues straight ahead. After crossing a rock wall, the trail reaches an open knoll with an old stone foundation on the left and cellar holes on both sides of the trail. This was the site of the Charles Conklin farm. Once past the foundation, the trail enters brushier woods and begins to descend.
8.25 The Beech Trail (blue) starts to the right. A few hundred feet farther on, an unmarked trail goes off to the right as the Long Path bears left and begins to descend to an intermittent stream.
8.80 Cross the rocky outlet stream of a large marsh that is all but hidden to the right. The trail continues on a grassy woods road.
8.90 Reach Rockland County Route 106 (also known as Gate Hill Road or Old Route 210), turn right and follow the road for 250 feet. The trail then crosses the road and heads diagonally uphill into the woods. Not long after, it makes a left turn onto a woods road. Cross under a telephone line. Two additional left turns bring the trail past the south end of Lake Askoti.
9.35 Reach Seven Lakes Drive. Turn right, cross the bridge over the outlet of Lake Askoti and enter the woods on the opposite side of the road, across the guard rail. The trail descends along the stream and swings to the right, passing Lake Skannatati on the left.
9.40 The trail reaches a paved parking lot beside the lake. To continue, follow the shore of Lake Skannatati north through the parking lot.